No Shadow To Be Seen


Cover of "Groundhog Day (15th Anniversary...

Today’s Daily Prompt is “In the comedy “Groundhog Day” Bill Murray experienced the same day again and again, stuck in a time loop until he got the day “right.” What day would you choose to repeat until you got it right?”

This raises some interesting philosophical questions.

First, exactly what does Phil Connors (the character played by Bill Murray in ‘Groundhog Day’) experience. It’s not quite true that he experiences the same day again and again. The people around him, the rest of the universe if you will, experiences the same day but he is obviously a different person and does different things (and the same things in different ways) as he goes through the time loop. It’s not for him “the same day”.

Then we get to the concept of getting it right. Connors in the movie, indeed the movie itself, only considers “right” within the confines of the day and we have no knowledge of what might transpire in the future or any of the possible futures that Connors has given up – it may well be that if Phil had instead fallen in love with the waitress in the coffee shop their child would grow up to cure cancer while his children with Rita will have ordinary lives. We have no idea.

So it would prove for us if we took up the challenge. Looking back I’m sure we can find days we did things wrong or made the wrong choice. Days were it might be appealing to go back and do it over.

Back in April the Daily Prompt asked “Go back to a blog post you always thought could be better, or were unsatisfied with — now, fix it.” and I replied with the following:

As it says in “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”    The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, 
    Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit 
    Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, 
    Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.What, Tony? What are you on about?  Well as I looked at those blog posts I realised I certainly could rewrite one or two of them, make them “better” but to me that would feel dishonest. I am no longer the person that wrote those posts, the person that felt they were a good enough expression of his thoughts that they could be published here.

So, I believe, it is with this question. We are a different person to the one that “did things wrong” or “made a mistake” and if we go back to that day and “get it right” we do so as someone who knows perhaps too much. The moving finger, having writ, moves on.

Further, there is a real difficulty with looping just one day. Most of the days I would choose to do differently would be because they had an effect further down the road so knowing what is “right” for that day becomes difficult.

There are so many decision points where I might do something differently but then I would be a different person now. That person might be “better” for some values of better or “happier” for some values of happier but they would not be me. Indeed they might come, in that alternate now, to exactly this point and decide on an entirely different day to try over.

So given all that I don’t feel qualified to decide. I think, like Phil Connors, I will let fate decide which day to loop and what is “right”. Just one request, can I loop through with either Charlize Theron or Uma Thurman rather than Andie McDowell?

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11 thoughts on “No Shadow To Be Seen

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